Hamas has carried out a number of recent unsuccessful attempts to strike the Tamar gas platform off Israel's southern coast, according to defense officials.
The navy ordered a partial shutdown of the platform and a halt in the production of natural gas in wake of the attempted attacks. Senior security officials said that the platform is under the protection of missile boats and defense systems, and that it is not in danger of being damaged.
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Navy officials say they are confident that Hamas has been deprived of all the naval assets that it amassed in recent years that military intelligence knows about. Israel has hit seven different production sites for naval equipment in Gaza, five ammunition dumps, eight homes housing naval commandos, a number of military posts and rocket launching positions. Three senior Hamas naval commandos were killed during an attack on Gaza. The military has also made additional attempts on the lives of senior members of the Hamas naval unit, who are still missing and the fate of whom is unknown.
Hamas has a number of options to challenge the Israeli military via the sea. It can fire rockets at ships and offshore gas platforms. It also possesses jet skis, unmanned sailing vessels both above water and underwater, commando boats, speedboats, and drones, which currently constitute the main threat. The military has taken out a number of drones fired at Israel during the current conflagration, using air force jets, the Iron Dome system and other technological means.
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Since the beginning of hostilities last week, the navy has operated warships to protect Israel’s territorial waters and to prevent the infiltration of Hamas naval commando units into Israel – a primary gal for Hamas. Hamas aspires to carry out a raid via the sea like the one during the Gaza war in the summer or 2014, when its naval commandos emerged in the vicinity of the southern kibbutz of Zikim and attacked a tank and a military post. Hamas set up its naval program in order to conduct such an operation, but Israel’s naval operations and advanced technology pose a major hurdle to such attempts.